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Cameron dodges parliamentary question on maintenance grants

Wednesday 13-01-2016 - 16:29

The government has again avoided calls for a full parliamentary debate on their plans to scrap maintenance grants for the poorest university students.

Over 500,000 students currently receive the grants, which are a lifeline to many and are set to be abolished from September.

The policy was not in the Conservative manifesto and is being denied a vote in the House of Commons.

A Committee hearing taking place tomorrow, Thursday 14 January, will be the only opportunity for MPs to discuss the changes.

The issue was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central.

Cameron responded that the policy had been “fully debated and discussed”, despite the fact that he is denying MPs the chance to vote on such a crucial issue.

Here is the exchange in full:

Paul Blomfield: “When the Government pushed through their changes to undergraduate funding four years ago they said that providing maintenance grants for the poorest students was key to their participation in higher education. No mention was made in the Conservative manifesto of ending those grants. Is it therefore not completely unacceptable to make that fundamental change tomorrow by the back door, in Committee, without a vote of this House?”

David Cameron: “This issue has been fully debated and discussed in this house and it’s absolutely right because what our changes have shown, despite all the warnings from the party opposite, that more people are taking part in higher education and more people from low income backgrounds are taking part in higher education, and I’m confident that will continue to be the case.”

We believe that this change needs an urgent debate in parliament and we’re calling on students to ask their MP to attend tomorrow’s committee. Click here to find out more.

Prime Minister’s Questions also featured a question on the cuts to NHS bursaries and can be viewed again here. 

The Committee hearing will be streamed online tomorrow here.

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